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Which “witch” is which?

Photo by L. Meyer

Sometimes making the world a better place just involves creating space for the people who are already in it.

Jodi Picoult

With Halloween just around the corner, a quick walk through my neighbourhood reveals many fabulous decorations, signifying an intense interest in this special celebration. It is always amazing to discover what costumes the children in my community have created before they venture out trick or treating. When they arrive on my doorstep, it is fun to ask them about their costumes and to muse about the ones that stand out either through detail or wild imagination.

Parents can be spotted on the sidewalk waiting with pride and anticipation while their children gather the spoils of the evening. And clearly relish this time to celebrate creativity, connections with others, and the fun spookiness of the evening.

The celebration of Halloween comes from a long history of various cultural traditions and has evolved over time into the present day exercise. The tradition where now each young person attempts to be as individual as possible and where diversity of costume design is honoured and celebrated.

And where you can run up and down the streets of your neighbourhood asking for and receiving treats!

But it’s worth spending a moment to consider how we approach representations of diversity the other 364 days of the year?

When you consider how difficult it is for children to stand apart from one another in any way, the Halloween exception could either be seen as an oddity or as a guideline to follow all year long. Why should it become so difficult to stand out and simply celebrate who you are? We pay a lot of lip service to reconciliation, respect for all aspects of diversity yet it just takes a quick moment of reflection to admit that we are not very far along that path.

What would a world look like where everyone could experience a sense of belonging regardless of any aspect of being or feeling different from others? Just imagine a world where all forms of diversity would be celebrated every day of the year, not just on Halloween. That would be a treat!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!

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Curiosity did not kill the cat!

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The benefits of curiosity go far beyond the page – when we ask questions, we become engaged in exploration, bright with knowledge, and connected to ourselves, each other, and the world/universe/beyond.

Rita Zoey Chin

Have you ever been surprised by the results of a writing prompt or suggestion? Asking What if or Why questions seems to be a standard boiler plate type of question that you find in many writing craft articles or blogs. But spending a week trying to do this in all facets of your life, seemed like a worthy experiment that potentially could bring interesting results.

Curiously enough, I had written and underlined this idea in my journal about ten months ago. That must mean something, right? So I decided the time is now. With the best intention mind possible, I tried to direct my focus on becoming curious about everything and everyone around me. For an entire week.

But I wanted to move beyond spending an inordinate amount of time on Google. So I had to consider how to respectfully ask questions of others without being rude or coming off as just plain nosy. The best place to begin seemed to be to shine my focus on things rather than people.

Connecting with others to learn more about seemingly innocuous aspects of life, paved the way to fully embrace this curiosity exercise.

Not only did I discover interesting facts about my physical surroundings but along the way I was starting to see how easy it is to slip into a frame of mind where judgement of others plays a leading role. We make assumptions about many things in our daily lives without a solid understanding of why or accurate knowledge about some of our beliefs.

So I tried asking more why and what types of questions with friends and family members and came away having learned much more about the inner lives of those I care about. I am left wondering if some of the judgments I often end up making about others are some type of bizarre artifact from the pandemic. So many people seem to stew in a pot of resentment and judgment these days.

Learning how others are experiencing the world helps generate empathy. And in addition to skill building and creating a writer’s mindset, curiosity about others leads to a place of caring and concern.

Imagine what our world might be like if everyone was just a little more curious about those around them!

Stay healthy and safe!

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Don’t let excuses undermine commitments…

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There are only two options: Make progress or makes excuses

Anonymous

September started with a renewed sense of commitment. To rejoining the world, making social connections and activities a priority, coupled with a focus on self care. Not just self soothing moments but an emphasis to be placed on good sleep, nutrition, exercise, and most definitely on stress reduction.

On the Canadian prairies, we are all too familiar with wind. When weather systems come in or when they leave, wind is always the usher of change. But not calm, gentle, types of wind. No we regularly experience harsh, blustery, gale force type winds that race across the flat, prairie landscape kicking up dust, leaves, and occasionally, tumbleweeds.

So as I glanced outside this morning before my yoga class, I watched strong wind blow most of the fall leaves that had landed on my lawn onto the street. And in all likelihood they would be whipped further along landing on the lawns of my neighbours. I needed to travel to my class on foot as our car was in the shop. Watching small branches being whipped off of trees, I thought it best to check the weather forecast.

The winds were predicted to only get stronger during the course of the day. It seemed easiest in that moment to decide it was likely not a good idea to attend the class. After all it was just too windy to try and walk to the centre where the class was being held. Heading north into a northwest wind seemed nonsensical to me. It would probably be fine on the way home but that was only one way. Right?

But then I thought about missing the class. There was no way to make it up later in the week. And I had indeed made a firm commitment to myself to take this class face to face rather than on Zoom. So an internal argument in my mind left me undecided as to what to do. Mentally running through a pros and cons checklist, it was clear to me that the benefits would definitely outweigh a blustery walk in the wicked prairie wind.

Further reflection left me thinking about how easy it is to talk yourself out of doing something rather than talking yourself into it. Perseverance seemed the answer. So I bundled up, braved the wind which was stronger than I had envisioned. The urge to turn around and go home was overwhelming. But once I got half way there, it seemed ridiculous not to just carry on. So I got there in one piece, albeit with dust in one of my eyes.

Accompanied by feeling grateful that I was there, seeing people I enjoy being with, ready for a class that makes me feel better every time I go.

It occurs to me that taking the easy way out of something is less satisfying than forging ahead and enduring a bit of discomfort along the way. In fact, it made the whole thing much better knowing that the choice was the right one. The act of challenging yourself to do something that has a degree of difficulty does provide a sense of accomplishment even though in the larger scheme of things it probably was not a big deal.

But the value of the exercise by being true to the commitments you make to yourself was immeasurable.

Stay healthy and safe!!

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Navigating liminal spaces

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Choose courage over comfort by vitally engaging with new opportunities to learn and grow, rather than passively resigning yourself to your circumstances.

Susan David

Liminal spaces are often uncomfortable places to be. You have neither moved forward nor will you be staying where you have been. So it can resemble walking a tightrope or being lost in a cavern. Transitions and changes of any type often present this type of liminal challenge.

This week presented one such struggle. I need to take a course to maintain a teaching certification but seemed to be having some reservation about returning to working with people face to face in a classroom format. The annoying voices locked in a fierce debate in my head had me up and down like children on a see saw.

Questions on this teeter totter ranged from, Should I bother doing this? to Yes, of course, this was something you used to be energized by. What about my writing goals? Would this knock me off course? Sitting down, writing through this process taught me that I had once enjoyed the process, the people, and sense of purpose. And that I could certainly do more than one thing.

But fear of having been away from this work for too long coupled with feelings about being concerned about how to step back into the path I had been on before Covid knocked the world off course kept me fretting. Rumination followed by more ruminations.

Reframe. Recognize resistance for what it is. Breathe. It is truly amazing how mind over matter really matters. This tendency to overthink things has only intensified during the past two years. So I just challenged myself to drop all preconceived notions and took the recertification course.

And was pleasantly surprised at how easily I re-engaged with the process and the people. And not long after the course, I was struck with a story ideas and cracked off a first draft of a flash fiction. Hah!

Liminal spaces are like way stations. The kind of thing that won’t last forever especially when you think it will. Choosing courage to embrace a new opportunity became the gentle push that nudged me along the path I need to be on.

Stay happy and safe!!